I know I've hit Chicago before on tLB, but this weekend has been a culinary adventure once again. This city doesn't fail the stomach or tongue. The waistline, yes.
Saturday's appetites were saved, by late hotel breakfasts and no lunch - for
Dinner: the Girl and the Goat. Although I'm behind on this season's Top Chef, I watched religiously when Stephanie Izard was on. If my memory serves me correctly, the producers did not spotlight her talents from the beginning. So it felt like she came out of nowhere on the second half of that season to be the only woman victor to date. But then, it's all about the editing and marketing, isn't it?
I'm always hesitant to laud a chef who is famous, just for their fame. I don't like to be a conformist. But when there is true genius, it's hard to hold out on the compliments. Every dish we had at the Girl and the Goat was fabulous. Not a term I'd use lightly. They were sauced well & seasoned well. Each dish had a harmonious combination of flavors, temperatures, and textures. Nothing was thrown in just to add components or be complicated. Favorites were: fried oyster over a spoonful of egg salad topped with fried caper & the chickpea fritters. So darn smooth inside, like velvety hummus, but shaped and cut like a cousin of fried polenta - but so so smooth. It sat on a bed of eggplant-fresh tomato caponata over a small slice of fresh mozzarella. The adventurous among us tried a salad of fried duck tongue with arugula and citrus, which "unfortunately tasted very good" (according to the 12 year old). She wanted to hate this. Goat rillette empanadas, braised pork shank, sugo (goat ragu over papperdelle), kohlrabi salad, ham frites (ham powder on fries - yes), blue prawns over peanut spaghetti squash, roasted green beans with fish sauce viniagrette (I can still taste this one - a wonderful mouthful). Clearly we ordered more food than we needed to, but when you're only in town a few times a year - serious decisions have to be made.
Lunch: Frank and Dawg's on Clybourn. We all enjoyed this casual lunch spot - with not so casual dogs and sausages. "Five star menu on a bun". Take a minute to go to this link and look at the dawg options. Unreal. Everyone tried something different, and everything was so creative and well done. Bayou Dog, Da Ringer, Peking Duck, and Roaring Buffalo were our choices. What would you choose?
Dinner: Cafe Ba Ba DaReeba. Classic tapas, authentically prepared. We sampled almost everything (sensing a theme?) I'll leave you with this. Although my kids are good eaters - in general - they are still kids. So while the 12 and 9 year old will eat anything, the 6 and 4 year olds are a little slower to warm up to things that look unusual. In these sort of situations, where my goal is to get a wonderful meal for myself, I'll cater to them more than I would back at a restaurant in Ann Arbor, or certainly in my home kitchen. So my little man enjoyed braised short rib, but didn't love the look of the empanada. No prob - it meant more for the rest of the table. As we were slowing down, starting to get that glazed look and worrying how many things are yet to come, the little guy wants more serrano ham. And I'm wondering, should we order nine dollars worth of pork to keep this kid quiet? Yes, yes we should. He pounded it down, like a Man vs Food competition. It made a mom proud.